Friday, November 13, 2015

Teaching Grounding Yoga Classes: Supported Child’s Pose

By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

At the present time, it is late fall in the Northeastern United States. In many of the surrounding areas, the colorful leaves of early fall have peaked and are now carpeting the earth. During this season, it is quite natural to want to eat comforting soups and stews, as well as spend time preparing for the winter ahead. The late fall is also a time of seasonal release and introspection, before the holiday season gets into full swing. 

Essentially, the late fall season lends itself to a time to pause, reflect and exhale. As we exhale, the body relaxes and we are more easily able to drop what no longer serves us, whether it is muscular tension or emotionally bracing against a painful life experience. When you are designing a creative, challenging and seasonally appropriate Yoga class for your students, keeping in the mind the cycle of the seasons will help you to create a beautifully-designed flow of postures, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques that truly nurtures your students. 



There are many different and unique ways to teach Yoga classes. If you live in a temperate area, the late fall season naturally lends itself to a series of postures and pranayama practices that are grounding and facilitate deep release. Poses such as Plank Pose, Legs Up the Wall and Dolphin Pose are all very grounding. In addition, seated forward folds are both grounding and soothing in nature. According to the Anusara system of Yoga, any posture that firmly sets and grounds the femur bones into place helps to soothe and quiet an overactive nervous system. 

* Supported Child’s Pose

One of the most quintessentially grounding Yoga postures is Child’s Pose or Balasana. When Child’s Pose is practiced in a supported fashion, it is even more deeply nourishing and soothing. Child’s Pose can be practiced in a number of ways, including in an extended modification, vinyasa-style or with the arms in front of the student or extending towards the back of the Yoga mat with the palms facing up. Salamba Balasana, or Supported Child’s Pose, can be practiced with either the use of a bolster or a rolled blanket, which approximates the same size as a Yoga bolster. 

If you would like to incorporate the practice of Supported Child’s Pose into your Yoga class, it is advisable to request that your students place a bolster or blanket next to their mats before the class begins, so that you can avoid the inevitable distraction of a number of your students getting up to get a bolster later on during the class itself. Supported Child’s Pose is usually practiced towards the end of a Yoga class as one of the finishing postures, just prior to Final Relaxation Pose or Shavasana. This soothing and nourishing posture will help to release any tension that may have accumulated in the lower back during class, and it will facilitate your students to move from the active portion of a Yoga class to the more introspective, restorative portion of a class. 

When you are ready to lead your Yoga students through the practice of Supported Child’s Pose, have them place the bolster or blanket lengthwise on their mats. Instruct your students to drape their upper torsos over the bolster or blanket with their knees comfortably separated on either side of the bolster and their toes gently touching. Ask them to rest their heads on one check on the bolster and place their arms on the side of the bolster or blanket or comfortably on the mat in front of them. If any of your Yoga students have tight lower backs or groin muscles and need more height, they can place an additional folded blanket or two on top of the original bolster or blanket. 

Finding an appropriate height for the supportive Yoga prop that each student is using is important, so that your students are able to truly relax in Salamba Balasana. Halfway through the practice of Salamba Balasana, ask your students to rest on the alternate cheek, so that the small, delicate muscles one each side of the neck are elongated in a balanced fashion. Ask your students to rest in Supported Child’s Pose for 5-10 breaths up to two to three minutes or longer, depending on the amount of time you have to dedicate to practicing this posture.

When you Yoga students have completed their practice of Supported Child’s Pose, ask them to push themselves up to a comfortable kneeling position before moving into Final Relaxation Pose. If you are short on time, you can substitute Salamba Balasana for Shavasana. If you do so, a nice way to bring the class to a close that is quite grounding is to have your students pause for a moment or two in a kneeling position, bring their hands to Namaskar in front of their hearts and chant “Aum” three times. This primordial mantra helps to ground the body and encapsulate the benefits of a well rounded, grounding Yoga class. 

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she works as a writer and an academic support specialist. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright 2015 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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2 comments:

parvezbdjsr said...

One of the most quintessentially grounding Yoga postures is Child’s Pose or Balasana.
When Child’s Pose is practiced in a supported fashion, it is even more deeply nourishing and soothing.

Mary Wilson said...

According to the Anusara system of Yoga, any posture that firmly sets and grounds the femur bones into place helps to soothe and quiet an overactive nervous system. Thanks for nice posting!